Shopping for a wedding dress is a fairytale experience, and never more so than at the new “by appointment” bridal suite at David Jones.
Where can you find wedding gowns by Alex Perry, Collette Dinnigan, and Johanna Johnson all in the one room? The bridal suite at David Jones, located at the retailer’s Elizabeth Street store in Sydney, is the only boutique in Australia offering more than 10 of Australia’s top fashion and bridal designers, plus a select few international names, in the one place.
As far as wedding dress shopping experiences go, this could very well be the country’s most lavish. Positioned on the exclusive Level Seven of David Jones, the purpose-designed bridal wear space features two oversized dressing rooms, leather sofas for guests, complimentary champagne on arrival, and the option to indulge in cupcakes as you try on a range of luxurious designer gowns. Australian fashion designer Alex Perry says the bridal suite is a must-visit for the busy yet discerning bride.
“A lot of brides today are time-poor, so when it comes to having a wedding dress made, many don’t have time to go through the full couture process,” he says. “At David Jones girls can see it, try it on, buy it, and basically walk away knowing exactly what their dress will be like.” Having so many revered designers in the one boutique also cuts down on the travel time of visiting each designer’s studio direct.
In any one visit, brides-to-be might try on a floor-length lace gown by Lisa Gowing, an Oscars-worthy silk satin gown by Johanna Johnson, and a romantic appliquéd dress by Akira Isogawa. Then there are the accessories: shoes by Christian Louboutin and jewellery by Peter Lang are just some of the designer labels available. It’s this unique mix of high fashion and bridal — both in what’s available and in the designs themselves — that is luring brides-to-be up to Level Seven for a fairytale fashion experience.
The High Fashion Bride
Most of the designers for bridal at David Jones walk the line between high fashion and bridalwear, producing gowns that break away from run-of-the-mill designs.
“That’s what’s so great about fashion designers that do bridal — such as Collette Dinnigan, Lisa Ho and myself,” says Alex. “We dip into bridal and dip back out. We bring some of that fashion sensibility to our designs.”
Alex says his next range of RTW bridal for David Jones, which he is currently working on, will be even more fashion skewed.
“We’ll always have the classics — there will always be girls who want to look like Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn — but I’m going to give [my next David Jones range] a more fashion focus with incredible ball gowns that — in a different colour — you might see on the red carpet. I’ll give it the edge that the girls who order my custom gowns want.” The dresses on display at the David Jones bridal suite — between six and 12 per designer — are all ready-to-wear or made-to-order gowns which, after the bride has made hers election, are made and/or altered by in-house tailors to fit. The differences between shopping here and visiting the designers in person come down to price — off-the-rack is more affordable — and convenience. It’s also an ideal option for brides who are having trouble envisaging what they want.
“Ready-to-wear is especially good for girls who aren’t great with imagining things,” says Alex. “Some girls are good at visualising what they want, whereas others need to see something; they need a point of reference.”
Room with a view
One of the most important things to consider when trying on bridal gowns is the quality of the space and fi tting room. It’s difficult to gauge how you really look in a dress when standing in a crammed studio with a small, free-standing mirror and poor lighting. “When you stand right on top of a small mirror, it’s the kiss of death,” says Alex. “When trying on a gown, the space needs to be beautiful, simple, and well-lit, with big mirrors.”
The fitting rooms in the David Jones bridal suite are exactly that — spacious with lots of natural light, expansive mirrors, and a central podium to give the bride height for that “ta-da” moment.
“It’s a beautiful environment without being too clichéd bridal,” comments Alex. “It has nice big mirrors and a big space where you can stand back and really look at yourself.”
Bridal department sales manager Nikkie Nguyen answers your questions:
Are bookings necessary?
Yes. For weekend appointments you will need to book four to five weeks in advance and for weekdays, one to two weeks in advance.
How long are appointments?
We understand that choosing the perfect wedding gown needs time and patience and we do not want to rush the process, hence all of our appointments last one-and-a-half hours.
How far in advance should I visit?
Made-to-order gowns generally have lead times of three and up to six months.
What other services are offered other than bridal wear?
David Jones offers many other services for the bride. We have the Gift Registry, where the bride and groom can create their complete wedding gift list. Our personal shoppers within our Personal Shopping Service can offer expert knowledge on key brands and trends in fashion for the groomsmen, mother-of-the-bride, and the bridesmaids. Other services include specialised lingerie fittings, hair and makeup trials, beauty treaments and flowers all from David Jones.